Thankful for Life? Talk With Your Family About Dying - Engage with Grace

Blogger's Note: Please. Talk with your family, friends, advocates, and caregivers about end of life choices. Do you have an advanced directive? A living will? This is *not* the kind of thing you want to leave til the last minute (literally). Live well. Engage with grace.

From the Engage with Grace team:

We make choices throughout our lives - where we want to live, what types of activities will fill our days, with whom we spend our time. These choices are often a balance between our desires and our means, but at the end of the day, they are decisions made with intent. But when it comes to how we want to be treated at the end our lives, often we don't express our intent or tell our loved ones about it.

This has real consequences. 73% of Americans would prefer to die at home, but up to 50% die in hospital. More than 80% of Californians say their loved ones "know exactly" or have a "good idea" of what their wishes would be if they were in a persistent coma, but only 50% say they've talked to them about their preferences.But our end of life experiences are about a lot more than statistics. They're about all of us.

So the first thing we need to do is start talking. Engage With Grace: The One Slide Project was designed with one simple goal: to help get the conversation about end of life experience started. The idea is simple: Create a tool to help get people talking. One Slide, with just five questions on it. Five questions designed to help get us talking with each other, with our loved ones, about our preferences.

And we're asking people to share this One Slide - wherever and whenever they can. At a presentation, at dinner, at their book club. Just one slide, just five questions.

Lets start a global discussion that, until now, most of us haven't had. Here is what we are asking you: Download The One Slide and share it at any opportunity - with colleagues, family, friends. Think of the slide as currency and donate just two minutes whenever you can. Commit to being able to answer these five questions about end of life experience for yourself, and for your loved ones. Then commit to helping others do the same. Get this conversation started.

Let's start a viral movement driven by the change we as individuals can effect...and the incredibly positive impact we could have collectively. Help ensure that all of us - and the people we care for - can end our lives in the same purposeful way we live them. Just one slide, just one goal. Think of the enormous difference we can make together.

To learn more please go to www.engagewithgrace.org.

Dying is never easy. Don't place an added burden on your family by requiring them to sort out these decisions for you.

Don't just read and talk about your choices. Document your wishes for future use.

"As a health care lawyer, my occupational disability is seeking to ensure that conversations started through the one slide actually end up with properly documented health care directives that are entered into medical records and discussed in advance with physicians and caregivers."

Blogger David Harlow provides a link to legal forms for end of life care here:http://healthblawg.typepad.com/healthblawg/2008/11/engage-with-grace.html.

Get started thinking about how you want the finish to go. Can you control death? Prevent dying? No. But you can spell out how you'd like to be treated. Engage with grace.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll see updates related to the Engage with Grace project throughout the week, including how my friends and family have prepared and documented wishes for end of life care, marked with the #engagewithgrace hashtag.

Plug that term (with the number sign preceeding) into Twitter Search, or just use the terms 'engage with grace' and 'one slide' to look for more.

Special thanks to Bob Coffield (@bobcoffield) who engaged me with an eloquent email, and provided the links below:

Watch Alexandra Drane tell the story that I heard at the Health 2.0 Conference:

Read the Boston Globe's article today:

The Engage With Grace main page:

Special special thanks to Matthew Holt and the team at THCB (John, Sarah), and Paul Levy and the BIDMC community, Running a Hospital, for getting this conversation started. Now, take it offline people.

Special special special thanks to Alexandra Drane. This was gracefully done. Thank you.

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